Citygate Students and Twenties exists to see radical, faith filled believers equipped to live a life that is drastically counter-culture, but extends immensely powerful love and compassion to the world around them.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Quick Psalm 31

This is a quick one for you, taken from a Psalm written by Mr King David in reference to his little old life. It's a pretty cool one, not because he wrote it (and most of his as pretty good) but actually because I found it really earthy, really grounded. None of this airy-fairy stuff we all know, but actually a dose of reality check. That's why it's refreshing, and that's probably why I most like it. If you read it all you'll think David's Bi-polar, maybe he was, but this little chunk from the start of Psalm 31 says it pretty well: 

In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; 
    let me never be put to shame;
    deliver me in your righteousness. 
Turn your ear to me, 
    come quickly to my rescue; 
be my rock of refuge, 
    a strong fortress to save me.
Since you are my rock and my fortress, 
    for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
    for you are my refuge. 
Into your hands I commit my spirit; 
    deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.
I hate those who cling to worthless idols; 
    as for me, I trust in the Lord
I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
    for you saw my affliction 
    and knew the anguish of my soul.
You have not given me into the hands of the enemy
    but have set my feet in a spacious place.

He is our rock, our reality, our safe place, our stability in a world of change, our leader of greatest skill and integrity, The One to hand our spirits over to, and The One who came down to earth to live the pain we face daily. He is our redeemer and our king, and we can trust Him 100% of the time. Why? Because He has "set our feet in a spacious place".
Look at where He's placed you, and see the space He's put around you to influence and lead for Him. That's an encouraging, a little bit scary, but revolutionary way to look at the world - I encourage you to try it!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Why Bother With It All? Not sure.

I last talked about God as a Father, and how we as His children are called into that very unique and very special place as a child of God. And that place brings us now not under condemnation and judgement from Him by our standards, but now we are (and will be) judged by the new standards of Jesus Christ; His history and track record, and not ours (praise God!). We can easily be persuaded by the culture-fixers's of this world that we need to go-it-alone and become independent adults - carving out our own future from the bedrock of a hardened world. But the reality is that this is not a world abandoned, bitter and forsaken, but a world in need of love.
Mobilise in April was immense wasn't it!?! What a wonderful and truly heaven-centred week of coming back in line with a heavenly Kingdom, and remembering the missional impact our lives need to be. When people ask me what the week was like, I always joke and say "well I am pretty sure there are no God-forsaken place on earth, however Pontin's Prestatyn comes pretty close!" - I joke of course, but man that place needs a material revival! :-)

So re-connecting with The Father is less an act of being in the right place at the right, but more about opening our hearts in <every> day, real time life. The Easter Passion week, and Sunday celebrations we're a great way of preparing us to be at the end of ourselves, and at the beginning of our softer hearts.

1 Peter 4v14-19 put's it like this:
If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for The Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer it should not be as a murderer or a thief or any kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.....So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. 

So how do we suffer? And how do YOU suffer in YOUR context? It's always "out there" kind of suffering isn't it? and when you hear those really annoying people preaching that we in the west don't really know what suffering is in our context, it kind of hurts. Most of our pain doesn't seem to be at a material level (of course some of us amongst us do still have genuine, real need of basics) but still the biggest need I tend to see in sunny (yeh right) Boscombe is the mental prisons so many are locked up in. It might be pain from the death of someone cared about, the questions of sexuality, the worry of student debt, or the lingering prospect of getting a job to pay rent and make something of your life. Pain looks different to different people as well, and can we blame them?
But the truth that Jesus brings is a freedom in mind, as well as in Spirit. Now I am not arguing all "real" Christians have top bill mental health, because big historical figures in Scripture are well documented as struggling with this very issue, but the heart of God is not to see a soul lost, but a mind won. Where's your head at?

2 Cor 12v10 put's it like this:

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

Sound's like a head-held-high kind of guy? I think not! But Paul's revelation comes not from how great he feels, but from How great He is. HE is the key to the lock, the chisel to the rock, the missing link in our story. Paul glimpsed something of The Father's heart, and going back to 1 Peter we see that living in this life means God's blessing can rest on us. But what does the blessing of God look like, really, in everyday life?
(I am not going to attempt to answer that, but might pick it up next time)

Our suffering needs to be in accordance with God's will, not our own pride. Sometimes we can feel one of 2 very wrong extremes:
1. "Woe is me, I am a poor Christian, called to suffer a life of trial, hardship, and persecution because the world is full of evil, and satans out to get me"
2. "I am a new creation - Nothing is going to stop me because I am  God's representation on earth! I am the main man, and what I bind in Jesus' name, will be done! Nothing can stop me because if God is for me, than who can be against me!?"

Now, obviously the first stance is just going to end up with you rocking back and forth in the foetal position because you've been crushed by the world (love that's described in Jonah 2v5-7 BTW!). And the 2nd position doesn't seem to match up with most Christian's experience of real life - just because you're saved, doesn't mean that there aren't rainy day's and you don't get it wrong. So let me suggest a third, more real paradigm that may be a more helpful approach:
"I am saved and secure, my mind, soul and body is Christ's, and Christ's alone. The world I am in needs fixing, but I am not God's only answer, in fact I am not even a solution. BUT God has placed me here to be a blessing to others, so that I may speak, eat, drink, sleep, talk, work, play, and be active for the expansion of God's Kingdom in every context He chooses to put me".

The 1 Peter verse talks about a self commitment - an act of making a decision, and sticking by it - which Guy and Martin helpfully led us to over last couple of Sundays, looking at how we serve, and why we should bother. It's also pretty encouraging to here in this verse that God is a faithful creator and that because of His faithfulness we can continue to do good. There's a good talk by PJ Smyth from Mobilise which is a really fun look at being missional. Well worth a watch/listen:

Next Friday were having a night hike if you'd like to stretch your legs in the New Forest, ending with a drink at The New Forest Inn (Lyndhurst). Event info can be found here: So if you need a lift, get in touch and post it up on the event wall - sure someone will take you along.

Hope you've been enjoying cell communities recently, I know the challenge is a personal one, so my personal challenge has been to encourage people to be a part of a community - I'd encourage you to encourage others to do the same!
Have a good week and weekend,
Student and Twenties